Recap of developments in Middle East, North Africa

CAIRO- Latest developments in the unrest sweeping the Middle East and North Africa.
LIBYA: Libyan rebels said they had seized the key oil refinery town of Rasnaluf in some of the heaviest fighting of the rebellion that left "many dead", a claim denied by a senior government official.
- Explosions minutes apart at a weapons depot killed 19 people and wounded dozens more outside the main rebel-held city of Benghazi on Friday, doctors said.

- Forces loyal to Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi were battling rebels on Friday for control of the town of Zawiyah, near Tripoli, in heavy fighting that has left "many dead," witnesses said.
- Western Libya is totally in government hands but the east is "problematic," a regime official said, admitting that the town of Brega was in rebel hands and that fighting was going on at Raslanuf further west.
- Police fired tear gas at protesters demonstrating against Moamer Kadhafi's regime in Tripoli as rebel fighters in eastern Libya tried to push the front line nearer to the capital.
- Protesters demanding Kadhafi's ouster came to blows with loyalists in a street near Tripoli's landmark Green Square.
- Libya has given Venezuela the green light to form a mission to find a peaceful resolution to the crisis shaking the North African country, Venezuela's foreign minister said.
- The European Union warned it could deploy warships to enforce an arms embargo on Libya, while urging humanitarian workers be allowed in the country.
- The international Red Cross slammed attacks on its ambulances in Libya and called for $25.7 million (18.4 million euros) to help those hit by the crisis.
- The Netherlands is using "every diplomatic angle" to obtain the release of three Dutch soldiers captured in Libya while attempting to rescue civilians.
- Britain seized £100 million ($160 million, 117 million euros) of Libyan currency found on a Libya-bound ship and escorted the vessel back to England.
- Interpol has issued a global alert against Kadhafi and 15 others, including members of his family and close associates.
EGYPT: Egypt's new Prime Minister Essam Sharaf vowed to respond to demands for democratic change as he addressed thousands of protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square a day after his appointment.
- A popular referendum on constitutional changes in Egypt has been set for March 19, an army source told AFP.
YEMEN: Yemeni troops killed four demonstrators and wounded seven others when they fired on an anti-regime rally in the north, officials and Shiite rebels said, as protests raged across the country.
BAHRAIN: A Bahraini Shiite opposition leader called for Sunni-Shiite harmony as thousands of protesters marched in Manama, a day after residents of a town south of the capital reported sectarian clashes.
IRAQ: Thousands of protesters massed in cities and towns across Iraq after streaming in on foot in defiance of vehicle bans for rallies over corruption, unemployment and poor public services.
JORDAN: Thousands of Jordanians demonstrated in Amman to demand "regime reforms," a day after Prime Minister Maaruf Bakhit rejected calls for a constitutional monarchy.
SAUDI ARABIA: Several hundred people protested in the Shiite-majority east of Saudi Arabia, calling for the release of an arrested cleric and other detainees, witnesses said.
TUNISIA: New Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi accused toppled president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali of "high treason" during his first public appearance.
- Tunisia will hold an election on July 24 to choose an assembly to write a new post-revolution constitution, which was a key demand of government critics.
DJIBOUTI: The interior ministry on Thursday asked the opposition to postpone a demonstration scheduled for Friday, with presidential elections a month away.
MOROCCO: King Mohammed VI of Morocco on Thursday set up a new body to defend human rights, replacing an existing organisation that had a purely consultative role.
- Young activists are using Facebook to call for new demonstrations on March 20 "for dignity and large scale political reforms."
ALGERIA: A major opposition party, the Socialist Forces Front, urged Algerians on Friday to engage in a "peaceful struggle" for change in the nation a day ahead of a planned anti-government demonstration in the capital.
SYRIA: Activists are demanding political reforms be made a top priority as revolts rattle regimes across the Middle East, toppling Egypt's and Tunisia's leaders in less than a month.

Saturday, March 5th 2011

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